A Look at Aladdin’s Genie—and Its Jinn Origins
May 24, 2019 ·


With the much-hyped release of the new version of Disney’s Aladdin, I thought it would be interesting to take a brief folkloric look at genies and jinn. Jinn (or djinn) refers to creatures that appeared in medieval Arabic folklore; they were usually depicted as threatening and free-willed—so dangerous in fact that rituals and amulets are …

A Mistake and a Professional Embarrassment
May 24, 2019 ·


Remember when CFI West and its Independent Investigations Group was on National Geographic and did a whole thing where it debunked Flat-Earthers right before their eyes? Well they turned that event into a pilot episode for their own original video series for the Center for Inquiry Investigations Group. It’s great! Do you know how to …

Nones From Above!!!
May 22, 2019 ·


Where’s a nice place to be a None? Canada, of course! John Longhurst at RNS reports: “It’s more normal in Canada to say you have no religion,” said Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme, a professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo and author, with Joel Thiessen, professor of sociology at Ambrose University, of “None of the Above: …

Going to Battle for a Gay Rat Wedding
May 21, 2019 ·


While y’all were paying attention to dragons and whatnot, we sued Walmart. That’s right! CFI has filed suit against Walmart for selling homeopathic snake oil as though it were real medicine, just like we’re doing with CVS: “Despite being among the richest corporations on Earth and the largest retailer in the United States, Walmart chooses …

A Cosmic Experiment Being Performed On Us
May 20, 2019 · 1 


Last week the House passed the Equality Act, which did please us: “An affirmative act of Congress to grant federal protection from discrimination to the LGBTQ community has been a long time coming—too long,” said Jason Lemieux, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs. “It would be a tragedy if the Senate now refused to advance this …

Can Rationality Be Learned?
May 20, 2019 ·


Learning is conceptualized as a relatively permanent change in thinking or behavior. Innate (natural) skills are those you are born with; no experience is necessary to display these qualities. Innate skills vary tremendously among the animal kingdom, and much of human life is dependent on learning. High-level learners have an advantage in life. Learning is …

Trump’s Tricks: The Illusion of Popular Support
May 17, 2019 · 1 


Donald Trump is widely known for boasting. He brags about his intelligence, his physical and mental health, his wealth, and pretty much anything else he can think of or in some tangential way take credit for. But most of all, Trump loves to brag about how influential, adored, and popular he is. From his wildly …

Single Spies v. Battalions
May 17, 2019


At Skeptical Inquirer, Guerilla Wikipedian Susan Gerbic offers advice on how non-scientists and non-academics can get more involved in skeptic activism. And yes, it has a lot to do with Wikipedia: As you can imagine, there is so much work to be done. And yes, the idea of creating, rewriting, and maintaining all Wikipedia pages …

Pretend to Be a Bit More Human
May 16, 2019


I know there are other things going on in the world. I know that the republic is collapsing and the oceans are boiling. But nothing matters more than this: Star Trek: Picard is a real thing and it’s coming soon. There’s a new Point of Inquiry episode on the interwebs, ready for you to feed …

I Have Good News and I Have Bad News. Mostly the Latter.
May 15, 2019


Bad news, but tragically unsurprising: Alabama is about to ban just about all abortions. NYT: The legislation bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison. It includes an exception for cases when the mother’s life is …